One of the main criticisms that comes against classical education is its practicality in the real world. Dr. Hebbard addresses the issue that seeks to satisfy the critics as well as encourage the classical students by going beyond the surface of the assumption that a major is the best route to a career.
As a preliminary note let me just say from the start that the high school students engaged in studying classical education are a huge step ahead of their contemporaries who will likely never comprehend the very nature and purpose of classical education. However, with that said, we in the twenty-first century are still looking up at the bottom of classical education of centuries now gone by. We honestly need to go further to play some serious catch-up; classical education at the baccalaureate level is also essential.
Now let us turn to the question at hand. I am sure that you have thought about this question and have given it considerable thought. So before we offer an answer, let’s firstly attack the very nature of the question. The question assumes one primary assertion: that what a student can do with a specified major is more advantageous to his/her professional career than what a student can do with a classical liberal arts degree. This kind of thinking is not only misinformed from a classical educational point of view but it is also faulty in the world of pragmatics in which they live.
Perhaps the first distinction that needs to be made is between a liberal arts degree that one might find as a typical university degree offering and a classical liberal arts degree, which can only be found at a select handful of colleges in America, and only a few of which are Christian. The liberal arts degree has become synonymous with elementary education training; the future elementary teachers of America. But what we want to address is what can be done with the classical liberal arts degree.
The first and most obvious answer is “ANYTHING YOU WANT!” The classical students are not locked into a single set of skills or narrow canon of knowledge. Since classical liberal arts teach students how to think more than what to think, these students will thrive in any environment in which they are placed. Classical education advocates are confident the classical students will have developed the aptitude to figure things out.
Second, since classical Christian education seeks to train character and leadership skills into the students, they will be better equipped to do the things that we are all supposed to do regardless of particular job vocation: Be a faithful spouse, be a diligent parent to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, be an honoring son or daughter to their parents, be a thriving member of a church community to lead either formally or informally by example, be an influential voice in the shaping of culture for Christ, be an intelligent witness for Christ and a defender of the Faith to the world around, and be the man or woman that God has called them to be. What good is it to gain the whole professional world and yet lose your soul in the process? Classical Christian training keeps first things first by focusing on Christ-like character, which will out live all acquired skill sets.
Third, we firmly believe that the homeschoolers of today will make the best homeschool parents for the next generation. We also believe that there is no better training ground for homeschool parents than a classical Christian liberal arts education. This stands in stark contrast to parents only having been educated in a single major.
Now this may not satisfy the advocates of the training received at the current glorified vocational schools—often called universities—but let me offer some facts that threaten to undermine their own assumptions about the degree in a chosen major.
- Majors only train for one job yet the average person will change careers at least three times.
- An eighteen year old student may be ill-equipped to decide what he or she wants to do for the rest of his or her life and base that decision upon a single major.
- A plethora of jobs of the near future have yet to be described, much less have a college course or major designed to prepare students for them.
- Most college graduates do not end up working in the field in which they majored in college.
- Employers are looking for well-equipped and well-rounded individuals of honest character and integrity who have the capacity to think critically. When they find this individual, they will gladly train this person for their job openings regardless of major.
So at the end of the day, I look forward some day to handing off the baton of Kingdom leadership to the fully capable students trained classically who think critically, influence culture, defend the historic orthodox Christian faith, and are virtuous, honest, humble, and upright in the sight of God. If we only have public school kids who go on to attend state universities to choose from, the future leadership looks dismally secular. However, God will raise up a remnant generation to further the Kingdom of God, and I honestly feel he will pull from the students who have a broad competence in the wide range of God’s self-revelation to lead in all areas of life.